Gabe Newell Says Apple is Steam Box's Biggest Problem
January 31, 2013 6:58 PM
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Steam Box has to beat Apple into the living room
Gabe Newell said that Apple may be
the main problem
with getting the Steam Box into living rooms.
Newell, Valve's co-founder, told a class at the University of Texas' LBJ School of Public Affairs that Apple could be a threat to his company's upcoming Steam Box if it gets to the living room first.
Steam Box is Valve-developed hardware that aims to broaden the reach of Steam, which is Valve's digital distribution and multiplayer/communications platform. Right now, Steam delivers a variety of games to a user's desktop computer, but Steam Box will bring these games to the living room -- such as on a TV with Big Picture mode.
Not much else has been disclosed about Steam Box, other than the fact that it's Linux-based and will be an open system (Newell even said that it'd be possible to install Windows onto the Steam Box). While no release date is in sight, Newell worries that Apple may launch a similar platform for the living room -- thus beating Valve to the punch.
"The threat right now is that Apple has gained
a huge amount of market share
, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," Newell said. "I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room?"
While Valve is looking to offer the best hardware for the best possible price point, Newell worries that Apple may make a move first and offer a closed platform that will lack the user-generated content that Valve (through Steam Box) would offer.
"The biggest challenge, I don't think is from the consoles," Newell said. "I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together."
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RE: You're five years too late, Gabe.
1/31/2013 11:26:26 PM
Gabe always has a very long term outlook.
When the masses were salivating for Half Life 2 back in 2003, he had the wheels for Steam as a distribution platform already in motion. It took until 2007 to get a decent amount of publishers on there (until then there was Rag Doll Kung Fu and not much else), but it eventually happened.
He's also taking a long view with this. He's hedging his bets with Steam on OS X and Linux, making his platform as available as possible. The living room is another place to do it, especially at the pace that embedded systems are increasing in performance.
The upcoming Haswell is just the tip of the iceberg, Skylake in two years will be amazing. Starting down the path of small integrated systems now means that it will really have traction for a SteamBox in a few years.
I do disagree with the notion of PC decline. While PC sales are declining, I attribute that to longer hardware longevity and less need for multiple machines in households with tablets and smartphones in the picture. That doesn't mean that the PC as gaming a platform is declining. The number of gamers on Steam and games like League Of Legends only continues to increase at an accelerating pace.
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